Throwback Thursday this week, and we go back to 1985 and St Helens Town in FA Cup action. Thanks to John McKiernan, chairman of the Saints for reliving this memory for us.
It’s almost thirty years since St Helens Town made the draw for the 1st Round Proper of the FA Cup.
When the club made the trip to Colwyn Bay for their 1st Qualifying Round fixture on the 7th September 1985 goals from Shaw, Bendon and Davies ensured a comfortable 0-3 win and secured a home tie against Eastwood Hanley at Hoghton Road two weeks later.
Collins (Jimmy) and Farnsworth were on target on Saturday 28th September as fellow NWCFL side were dispatched in some style. Leek Town (another NWCFL side) were the opposition in the 3rd Qualifying Round (Saturday 12th October) and Phil Layhe hit the only goal of a tight game at Harrison Park to see Town reach the final qualifying round for the first time.
Northern Premier League outfit Morecambe were Town’s opponents in the 4th Qualifying Round on Saturday 26th October) and a trip Christie Park ensured the task of making progress was made even harder. Town put in a tremendous performance and a goal from Mark Gledhill earned a deserved 1-1 draw and a midweek replay back at Hoghton Road.
The 1st Round Proper draw was made following the weekend’s game and the winner of the replay would be on their way to York City in November!
In 1985 Town had yet to install floodlights which meant a 2pm kick on a Tuesday (29th October) afternoon which in itself would impact on a potential ‘bumper’ gate. What also conspired against St Helens was a regional bus strike by MPTE (Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive) on match day which made travel to the ground extremely difficult.
The game, in front of a crowd of over 1100 including York City boss Denis Smith, proved to be another tight affair but the Shrimps edged past Town with a solitary strike – a second half scrappy goal from the Shrimps Jim Thornton settled the game.
Town Vice-President Jim Barrett, ‘The replay was a scrappy game but we should have won; both Mark Shaw and Tommy O’Neil missed sitters in the second half. In reality we gave them a bit too much respect and paid the price.’
Morecambe went on to take York to a replay before bowing out 0-2 at Maine Road, home of Manchester City.
The St Helens Town team v Morecambe (both games):
Johnston (GK), Collins D, Wilson, McComb, Bendon, Shaw, Gledhill, O’Neil, Layhe, Davies, Farnsworth and Woodyer (Sub)
Six of the Town team would go on to be part of the FA Vase Wembley success the following season: Andy Johnston, Paul Wilson, John Bendon, Tommy O’Neil, Jay McComb and Phil Layhe all playing in the April 1987 final.